Organizers hope to get 1 million Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus to post lawn signs supporting Prop. 8 in unison next month.
Early on a late September morning, if all goes according to plan, 1 million Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, evangelical Christians, Sikhs and Hindus will open their doors, march down their front walks and plant “Yes on Proposition 8” signs in their yards to show they support repealing same-sex marriage in California.
It is a bold idea, one that may be difficult to pull off. But whether or not 1 million lawn signs are planted in unison, the plan underscores what some observers say is one of the most ambitious interfaith political organizing efforts ever attempted in the state. Moreover, political analysts say, the alliances across religious boundaries could herald new ways of building coalitions around political issues in California.
“Pan-religious, faith-based political action strategies . . . I think we are going to see a lot more of [this] in the future,” said Gaston Espinosa, a professor of religious studies at Claremont McKenna College.
The greatest involvement in the campaign has come from Mormons, Catholics and evangelical Christians, who say they are working together much more closely than they did eight years ago when a similar measure, Proposition 22, was on the ballot.
Mark Jansson, a Mormon who is a member of the Protect Marriage Coalition, said members of his group are also reaching out to Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
Organizers say the groups turned to each other because of the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the state. Thousands of gay couples have wed in the state since June 17, the first day same-sex marriages became legal.
“This is a rising up over a 5,000-year-old institution that is being hammered right now,” said Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church, an evangelical congregation in La Mesa. Garlow said that, while he supported Proposition 22, he was not nearly as involved as this time around, when he has helped organize 3,400-person conference calls across denominations to coordinate campaign support for the proposed constitutional amendment.
“What binds us together is one common obsession: . . . marriage,” Garlow said.
He added that many people of faith, regardless of their religion, believe that “if Proposition 8 fails, there is an inevitable loss of religious freedom.”
Other religious leaders vehemently disagree with Garlow and are working just as furiously to defeat Proposition 8. But their efforts have not been as carefully orchestrated as those of the initiative’s religious supporters.